Ruffy vs. Chief of Staff

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RAMON RUFFY, ET AL., petitioners,

75 PHIL 875
AUGUST 20, 1946


During the Japanese occupation, herein petitioner, Ramon Ruffy, a Provincial Commander of the Philippine Constabulary, retreated in the mountains instead of surrendering to the enemy. He organized and led a guerrilla outfit known as Bolo Combat Team or Bolo Area. The said Bolo Area was a contingent of the 6th Military District, which has been recognized and placed under the operational control of the US Army in the South Pacific. Sometime later, Col. Jurado effected a change of command in the Bolo Area. Major Ruffy who was then acting as Commanding Officer for the Bolo Area was relieved of his position. Later on or on October 19, 1944, Lieut. Col Jurado was slain allegedly by the petitioners. It was this murder which gave rise to petitioner‘s trial.

 The trial court convicted petitioner and he now filed this instant petition with the contention that he was not subject to military law at the time the offense for which he had been placed on trial was committed. Petitioners contended that by the enemy occupation of the Philippines, the National Defense Act and all laws and regulations creating and governing the existence of the Philippine Army including the Articles of War, were suspended and in abeyance during such belligerent occupation. He also assailed the constitutionality of 93d Article of War which provides that ―any person subject to military law who commits murder in the time of war should suffer death or imprisonment for life, as the court martial may direct. Petitioner argued that the said law was in violation of Article VII, section 2 of the Constitution since 93d of Article of War fails to allow a review by the Supreme Court of judgments of courts martial imposing death or life imprisonment.


  1. Whether petitioner was subject to military law at the time the alleged offense was committed.
  2. Whether 93d of Articles of War was constitutional.


  1. YES, petitioner was subject to military law at the time the alleged offense was committed. The rule that laws of political nature or affecting political relations are considered superseded or in abeyance during the military occupation, is intended for the governing of the civil inhabitants of the occupied territory. It is not intended for and does not bind the enemies in arms.

    By the occupation of the Philippines by Japanese forces, the officers and men of the Philippine army did not cease to be fully in the service, though, in a measure, only in measure, they were not subject to the military jurisdiction, if they were not in active duty. In the latter case, like officers and soldiers on leave of absence or held as prisoners of war, they could not be held guilty of breach of the discipline of the command or of a neglect of duty x x x; but for an act unbecoming of a gentleman or an act which constitutes an offense of the class specified in the 95th Article of War, they may in general be legally held subject to military jurisdiction and trial.

    Moreover, petitioners, by their acceptance of appointments as officers in the Bolo Area from the General Headquarters of the 6th Military District, they became members of the Philippine Army amenable to the Articles of War. x x x As officers in the Bolo Area and the 6th Military District, the petitioners operated under the orders of a duly established and duly appointed commanders of the United States Army and thus covered by Article 2 of the Articles of War which provides for persons subject to military law.

  2. YES, 93d of the Articles of War was constitutional. It does not violate Article VII, section 2 of the Constitution, which provides that ―the National Assembly may not deprive the Supreme Court of its original jurisdiction over all criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is death or life imprisonment. Court Martial are agencies of executive character, and one of the authorities ―for ordering of courts martial has been held to be attached to the constitutional functions of the President as Commander in Chief, independently of legislation. Unlike courts of law, they are not a portion of the judiciary.

    x x x court martial are in fact simply instrumentalities of the executive power, provided by Congress for the President as Commander in Chief, to aid him in properly commanding the army and navy and enforcing discipline therein, and utilized under his orders or those of his authorized military representatives.

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